How can my family and I resolve conflict with a difficult family member?
The questioner's philosophy
My sister-in-law and I were friends prior to my relationship with her brother. We got along really well and I knew she was intense then, however whenever we spoke I used some of the communication skills I have gained to help her see things differently and she would not lash out or feel on the attack.
Since being in a relationship with her brother and after moving away from the family base for a year I have found it difficult to communicate with her. She is always on the attack and makes family gatherings uncomfortable as she always causes a conflict with someone over nothing.
Sometimes my partner speaks to her and tells her straight to "bring her head in" and she is good for a couple of weeks and then it starts all over again.
She has a partner who loves her, but he is at his wits end as to what to do to stop these outbursts. She has a step-daughter who is scared of her and stutters when she has to think of the consequences if she does something as simple as drop a toy. She also has a 6 month old daughter and another on the way.
I am concerned for her well-being as it is coming to the point that her family do not want to invite her or to attend any event that involves her. She does not have Turrets or any psychological diagnosis. Her family has done "intervention" with a mediator, but nothing has improved.
I am of the belief that family is important, but it is coming to a point that we feel like cutting her off. How do I (we) face the challenge of resolving conflict with a difficult person?
When your sister-in-law is on the attack, do not attack back, or defend yourself - be still. It takes two to cause a conflict and it is impossible to be in conflict with someone if you are spiritually enlightened.
What does it mean to be spiritually enlightened with an aggressive person? When with an aggressive person the spiritually enlightened are like air, impossible to get hold of, impossible to wound, ephemeral. How can one become like air? Completely desist from defending yourself. It is the ego that feels the need to defend. The ego needs to protect and maintain its pride, dignity and its need to be right. Give these up completely and you will no longer need to defend yourself against attack. Then you have become like air and no one can fight with you. You have won a great victory - a victory over your lower self.
Then while maintaining your center send your sister-in-law love. When you are with her or late at night before you go to bed or early in the morning, imagine pink rays of love streaming from your heart and surrounding your sister-in-law. Imagine these rays coming from the source of love (God) and flowing into you, through you and out to surround your sister.
You will be pleasantly surprised how surrounding your sister-in-law with love while maintaining your center will nurture your relationship.
I wish to encourage you to continue to include your sister-in-law in family gatherings. I myself have a very aggressive sister. Although she is agressive with many people, she is never aggressive while with me and we are great friends! Aggressive people are given to us so that we can learn to go beyond our ego and love from the heart. Your sister-in-law will help each member of your family integrate their ego self with their Higher Self by learning to love your sister-in-law in the way I suggest.
Consequently I suggest you share my reply with other members of your family who find themselves in conflict with your sister-in-law. Even if they do not take it up you can. Then you will be completely free of conflict with your sister-in-law.
You will have mastered the challenge of resolving conflict with your sister-in-law, because by adopting the approach I recommend, there will be no possibility of conflict!